Texas Measles Alert: Infection From International Ministry Group

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Measles can cause complications such as pneumonia as seen here. Image by the CDC.

Measles can cause complications such as pneumonia as seen here. Image by the CDC.

Ten people in North Texas have come down with the measles as of Monday, August 19, 2013 reports local news station, CBS Dallas.

All the cases are connected to a single person who traveled outside the country as part of a ministry group from Eagle Mountain International Church, which is part of Kenneth Copeland Ministries.

Kenneth Copeland Ministries has offices Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. The 10 people who have contracted the measles range in age from one to 44 years old, but where there are 10 people with symptoms, there are most likely hundreds more who have been exposed.

What is Measles?

Measles is a highly contagious childhood infection that is caused by a virus.

Measles signs and symptoms seven to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Signs and symptoms of measles include, fever, dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, inflamed eyes, sensitivity to light, a skin rash of large, flat blotches, and tiny white spots in the mouth, with a blue-ish-white center. If you have measles, you can start spreading the virus days before the rash appears, by coughing or sneezing; the droplets enter the air and can be picked up by someone else or land on surfaces.

The measles virus can live on most surfaces for up to two hours.

Complications can arise from measles and include ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), low platelet count, and pregnancy problems. For those who develop encephalitis, the disease can be fatal. Once measles has been established in the body, there are no medications that will eliminate the infection. You can take over-the-counter medications to reduce fever and antibiotics if a bacterial infection, like pneumonia or an ear infection occurs, but the measles must run its course.

Preventing Measles

Measles, also known as rubeola, was once a common childhood illness. Until researchers developed a vaccine, three to four million people contracted measles and about 500 people died each year. In 2011, there were only 222 reported cases of

Measles causes a flat, blotchy rash that covers the body. Photo by the CDC.

Measles causes a flat, blotchy rash that covers the body. Photo by the CDC.

measles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now, children at the ages of 12 to 18 months receive a combination vaccine called measles, mumps, and rubella, commonly known as the MMR vaccine.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children receive a second dose at least 28 days after the first dose or between the ages of four and six when they enter school. The CDC says that 95 percent of people who receive one dose of the vaccine develop immunity to measles; the second dose of the vaccine is an attempt to catch the other 5%.

Texas’ High Vaccination Rate

Texas has an incredibly high vaccination rate against measles; 92 percent of Texans have received their MMR, making their vaccination rate better than 30 other states, according to ABC News.

This is good news for anyone who has come in contact with the people who have developed measles – most of the people who have come down with measles in this current outbreak have not been immunized, which speaks highly of herd immunity.

To be on the safe side, the church offered a vaccination clinic this past Sunday to offer measles vaccinations to anyone who had not been vaccinated. If you are unsure whether you’ve had the measles vaccine, you can take a blood test to check your immunity to the measles virus.

Resources:

ABC News. Texas Issues Medical Alert after Nine People Sickened. (2013). Accessed August 20, 2013.

American Academy of Pediatrics. 2013 Immunization Schedule. Accessed August 20, 2013.

CBS DFW. Measles Outbreak Traced to Kenneth Copeland Church. (2013). Accessed August 20, 2013.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles. (2012). Accessed August 20, 2013.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles Q&A. (2008). Accessed August 20, 2013.

Mayo Clinic. Measles. Accessed August 20, 2013.

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